First, I looked up the support number on the web. Easy to find. Then I called them. I was put on a polite hold and told how long I'd be waiting (five min.), which I always appreciate. The guy who eventually picked up was clear and courteous and friendly and knowledgeable, and when he didn't know something, quickly went and looked it up. Great tech support in all ways so far.
My primary problem was the keyboard; within minutes they had taken my info, put in the order to send me a new keyboard (covered under warranty), and given me exceedingly simple instructions on installing it (the old keyboard is to be thrown away). Instructions will also be included with shipped keyboard. Lovely!
But then we came to the real test. You remember my old Powerbook G3? The one I bought on eBay two years ago and was reselling? One of you was interested in it, lovely, but there was a problem. The power adapters for that computer had been recalled (six cases of them overheating and becoming fire hazards). The recall requested a computer serial number. My serial number had rubbed off at some point in the last three years (possibly while I was using it, possibly before I received it). The serial number was not available in the system profiler! Oh no ! Was it stolen? So when I had this guy on the phone, I humbly explained situation and asked if I'd bought a stolen computer. (I did use a reputable and much-approved retailer on eBay, so I was a little bewildered at the possibility). He looked into it, and said that the serial number in the older machines was often not available in used models, because re-initializing the system (often done before resale) would wipe the record of it. He also said that there have been many instances in that computer of continued use wearing out the serial number on the bottom of the machine. He didn't think it was likely to be a stolen machine. Yay!
But wait, there's more. He then went out of his way to go research the procedure for exchanging the power adapters, and found that there were accomodations for just my situation -- an official serial number that they could plug into the form, making it possible to send me one of the spiffy new power adapters. So that too is on its way to me, and I can now sell my computer in good faith elsewhere. Big sigh of relief.
So that's my little Apple Care story, making me very happy with Apple (which I usually am, but more so), and definitely inclined to purchase the extended warranty (which I have to decide on by the end of November). Hooray for pleasant and competent and swift customer service!
(It's a little sad, of course, that's I can be so excited by competence...but let us not think about what that says about the rest of the world of customer service. Let us especially not think about AT&T and their friggin' cable modems...)